Russia rejects Western criticism over Navalny's prison term

In this handout photo taken from a footage provided by Moscow City Court, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shows a heard symbol standing in the cage during a hearing to a motion from the Russian prison service to convert the suspended sentence of Navalny from the 2014 criminal conviction into a real prison term in the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. A Moscow court has ordered Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to prison for more than 2 1/2 years for violating the terms of his probation while he was recuperating in Germany from nerve-agent poisoning. Navalny, who is the most prominent critic of President Vladimir Putin, had earlier denounced the proceedings as a vain attempt by the Kremlin to scare millions of Russians into submission. (Moscow City Court via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) - Russian authorities on Wednesday shrugged off the massive rallies against the jailing of top Kremlin foe Alexei Navalny and rejected Western criticism as "hysterics" as activists reported more than 1,400 new arrests in the crackdown on protesters.

A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered Navalny to prison for two years and eight months, finding that he violated the terms of his probation while recuperating in Germany from a nerve-agent poisoning. The ruling immediately ignited new protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg that followed massive rallies over the past two weekends.

Speaking in court, Navalny denounced the accusations against him as fabricated and driven by President Vladimir Putin's "fear and hatred," saying that the Russian leader will go down in history as a "poisoner."

Asked to comment on Navalny's speech, which was shared widely on Russian social media platforms, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded that it's not up to him to determine Putin's place in history.